A green comet will visit Earth today for the first time since the ice age and the time of the Neanderthals.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), or ZTF for short, last approached our planet around 50,000 years ago. It will be visible to the naked eye today under the right conditions as it passes through the inner solar system. The comet is expected to be observable for days as it travels past Earth to the outer solar system.

ZTF is known for its green hue, which it gets from a carbon molecule, C2, absorbing and emitting light.

The comet, made of ice and dust, will come within 26 million miles of Earth, which is about 28% of the distance between the Earth and the sun. It will be visible for most of the night in the Camelopardalis constellation, which is located near the north celestial pole.

Space lovers can get the best views between 6.49 p.m. and 9:46 p.m. EST on Wednesday, or on Sunday, February 5 when the comet reaches the Auriga constellation. It will cease to be visible when the sun rises but will reappear for several nights. ZTF will be most easily spotted with binoculars or a telescope.

Astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility first identified the green comet in March 2022 as they noticed it approaching the sun using a wide-field survey camera.

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